By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, Lynn Nottage's winsome comedy of race and role-play in pre–Hays Code Hollywood, stars the underutilized African-American leading lady Sanaa Lathan as fictional, underutilized African-American bit-player Vera Stark. She spends the first act breaking into Depression-era Hollywood by any means necessary—mammies, maids, you name it—and the second getting deconstructed by a panel of clownish exegetes (anchored by a snappy Daniel Breaker). The play, like its title character, is more ingratiating and broadly gratifying than it wants to be: It seeks eagerly to entertain, and succeeds. And isn't that the job at hand? The debate is drowned out by applause.